How to Maintain Strong Immune System to Combat Coronavirus
How to Maintain a Strong Immune System to Combat Coronavirus
WHAT IS VIRUS
Every day over 100,000,000 viruses get into our body with food we eat, water we drink and air we breathe in. Fortunately, only some of them can be very deadly. A virus is an extremely small pathogen which can only replicate inside the living cells of other organisms. Viruses are made up of an outer shell of protein which carries DNA (or RNA) – the genetic code with the instructions for making new copies of the virus. Viruses kill around 15 million people every year - twice as many as cancer does. Because they can’t reproduce on their own they invade our cells, reprogram their DNA and transform them into very efficient factories producing millions of copies of a specific virus. During an infection we may have several million viruses per every millilitre of our blood.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS
The coronavirus (COVID-19) began to spread late last year (2019) in Wuhan, China. The virus appears to have first passed to humans from live animals sold for food in a large market. According to the Guardian, “80% of the UK population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 8 million people may require hospitalisation.” (>)
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 2020. This led to an unprecedented closure of public life in the UK, United States, Europe and many other countries all over the world to prevent widespread infection. By March, 80,000 people had been sickened and 3,200 people had died in China. Worldwide, in over 100 countries, by then more approximately 200,000 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed, with 8,000 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 SYMPTOMS
As with other lung and flu-like infections, people infected with COVID-19 may experience similar symptoms including cough, fever, along and shortness of breath. About 80% of those infected experience mild to moderate symptoms. About 20% experience more severe symptoms, which may include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, leading to death (about 1-3%).
HOW IMMUNE SYSTEM DEALS WITH VIRUSES
If it weren't for our immune system, none of us would live very long. After recognising a virus, the immune B-cells, responsible for making antibodies, are activated by another type of immune cells. They immediately start to multiply and after receiving necessary data from other immune cells they start producing about 2000 antiviral antibodies per second. After 4-7 days, those antibodies (IgG) are detectable in the blood, giving evidence about an ongoing infection. Antibodies (1,000 times smaller than a virus) bind to viral antigens, weakening viruses and marking them as enemies so that other white blood cells (such as macrophages) can engulf and destroy them. Antibodies have countless shapes to match all types of viruses. Every person has more than 10 billion different kinds of antibody – which means there are more types of antibodies inside us than there are people in the world.
WHY ONLY SOME INFECTED PEOPLE DEVELOP SYMPTOMS
Even if a virus enters the body it was demonstrated that a strong immune system can easily handle the invasion. Therefore, the key cause of diseases triggered by viral infections is weakness of the immune system caused by the listed below factors.
KEY CAUSES OF WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM
Deficiency of vitamin D, C, B12, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and antioxidants; use of antibiotics; insufficient number of good probiotic bacteria in the colon; high levels of toxins; chronic stress; cigarette smoking, regular use of alcohol, illegal drugs, caffeine, and other stimulants; diet high in refined foods such as sugar or white flour products; excessive consumption of meat products, cheese, pizza, milk and dairy products.
Take 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 every day after breakfast until recovery. After that reduce to 2,000 IU a day. Remember to take also 150-200mg of Magnesium twice daily as in a body deficient in this mineral Vitamin D will not get activated. Recently researchers investigated and compared data from 25 studies on vitamin D that involved 10,000 people to explore the effect of vitamin D in preventing cold, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia. Their conclusion suggests vitamin D supplementation was very beneficial in preventing respiratory tract infections. According to the NHS new guidelines on vitamin D, everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements during the winter months: “… The advice is to consider taking vitamin D supplements because it is difficult to get enough from food alone.”
“Vitamin D reduces the ACE2 enzyme which viruses like coronavirus use to gain access to our cells” (>).
“Vitamin D boosts the levels of antimicrobial (antiviral) peptides in the lungs” (>).
“The antiviral effect of vitamin D3 has been shown in various viral infections such as HCV, rhinovirus, and dengue virus” (>).
“Vitamin D increases the antiviral activity of bronchial epithelial cells”. (>)
Magnesium plays important role in maintaining strong immune system and proper conversion and absorption of vitamin D. Therefore, in cases where large doses of vitamin D don’t seem to work the true problem is magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is necessary to activate all the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D. Magnesium deficiency causes vitamin D to be stored and inactive. Unfortunately, almost all people are now deficient in magnesium due to soil depletion, chronic stress, use of stimulants, refined diet, etc.
10-30mg a day after breakfast (should be taken with Selenium and Copper). Zinc is required for strong immune system. In zinc deficient body immune system is not able to overcome viral infections. Zinc inhibits influenza & cold viruses; Taking Zinc at the start of a cold or flu helps minimise duration and severity of symptoms. In 2014 meta-analysis of 67 studies researchers have found that zinc is the best supplement for warding off colds and flu! According to the 2013 study, “Zinc (lozenges) administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduces the duration of symptoms.”
Selenium (50-200mcg daily) boosts immunity and helps defend viral and bacterial infections, autoimmune diseases and allergies. For instance, in people who already contracted HIV, selenium has been shown to also be able to slow down the progression of the disease into AIDS. It was discovered that 200 micrograms of Selenium per day helps prevent viruses from replicating.
Take 1,000 to 2,000mcg of B12 a day under the tongue (must be sublingual Methylcobalamin!). This vitamin is involved in the production of white blood cells which are responsible to deal with viral infections and many people with inflammations, weak immune system and autoimmune diseases have low levels of this most important vitamin.
Being an antioxidant Vitamin C helps maintain strong immune system by protecting it against oxidative damage caused by free radicals: “Vitamin C is known as an essential anti-oxidant and enzymatic co-factor for hormone production, collagen synthesis and immune potentiation.” According to Linus Pauling, “Effectiveness of ascorbic acid in providing protection against viral diseases results from its function in the synthesis and activity of interferon in preventing the entry of virus particles into the cells… For many people 1000 mg to 2000 mg of Vitamin C per day is the optimum rate of ingestion.“ A 2013 research maintains that, “Vitamin C Is an Essential Factor on the Anti-viral Immune Responses through the Production of Interferon-α/β at the Initial Stage of Influenza Virus Infection.”
PROBIOTICS (Lactobacillus gasseri, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus)
Take good quality probiotic formulas as inflammations, weakness of the immune system and autoimmune diseases are linked to the deficiency of the probiotic bacteria in the gut. Weakness of our immune system, which is greatly influenced by the ratio between good and bad bacteria in the gut, is one of the key causes of acute and chronic infectious diseases, cancers, or 160 autoimmune conditions.
Probiotics that may help inhibit coronavirus: Lactobacillus gasseri (seems to be the most important one), Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Other probiotics help fight coronavirus by boosting immunity: L. casei, B. bifidum, B. longum, L. paracasei, L. helveticus, L. johnsonii, L. brevis, L. lactis, L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. delbrueckii, L. fermentum, Saccharomyces boulardii, B. longum, B. animalis.
"According to a research team at Ehwa Womans University Medical Center (South Korea), probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus gasseri extracted from fermented sea buckthorn berry, represses the activation of purine, an energy source required for the mutation of new coronavirus... The researchers, led by Professor Yoon Ha-na of the Urology Department, also discovered that sea buckthorn berry had abundant amounts of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which have the same chemical binding site to the COVID-19 and affect the protein activity of AIDS... Also in China, a research team led by Professor Ruan Jishou from Nankai University in Tianjin recently discovered that COVID-19 in the human body mutated in a similar way to that of the Ebola and AIDS virus. According to the Chinese research team, the new coronavirus creates spike protein to survive within the human body... Professor Jeong Goo-bo of Gachon University Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute, also said, “I believe L. gasseri, derived from plants, can be effective in preventing COVID-19 spread because it affects the activation of purine enzyme, the energy source for AIDS, hepatitis, Ebola, and COVID-19 virus.” (>)
BLACK SEED OIL
Black seed oil showed antiviral properties able to kill even HIV which uses similar pathways as coronavirus. Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa) contains thymol (found also in thyme essential oil), a natural monoterpene which is commonly used as a medical and general-purpose disinfectant to kill various viruses and bacteria, including TB.
Nigella sativa has been used with surprising results in alternative HIV protocols for years. This was a remarkable discovery, described by the researchers as follows: “Nigella sativa had been documented to possess many therapeutic functions in medicine but the least expected is sero-reversion in HIV infection which is very rare despite extensive therapy with highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).” (>)
“Several repeats of the HIV tests remained sero-negative, aviraemia and normal CD4 count since 24 months without herbal therapy.” It means that two years after the treatment with Black seed was over there was no HIV nor antibodies against it found in the body and the helper T cell count (type of immune cells attacked by HIV) was normal!
Neem leaf extract safely increases CD4 cell levels in patients with HIV/AIDS which uses similar pathways as coronavirus. In 2008 India successfully completed the phase two trial of a neem-based microbicide gel for women. Researchers hope the gel will help protect against vaginal transmission of HIV/Aids. Studies reported in 1992 and 1994 showed neem’s ability to enhance the cell-mediated immune response may be used to provide protection from vaginal contraction of the disease if neem is used as a vaginal lubricant preceding intercourse. AIDS may possibly be treated by ingesting neem leaf extracts or the whole leaf or by drinking a neem tea. Neem bark killed the AIDS virus in a preliminary 1993 in vitro study (Larson, 1993). A study in test tubes and petri dishes, not in people! Another 1993 in vitro study showed that neem bark and leaf extracts reduced the production of viral proteins in cells, indicating that neem may inhibit replication of the virus (Upadhyay et al, 1993). Studies reported in 1992 and 1994 (Beardsley,1992 and Caldwell, 1994) showed that neem stimulates cell-mediated immune response. Researchers suggested this may be used to protect against vaginal contraction of AIDS. (A very promising follow up study was reported in 2008, see below.)
A 2003 in vitro study showed that an acetone-water neem leaf extract can protect lymphocytes against invasion by HIV. Note that the extract protected 75% of the lymphocytes, not 100%. The same extract was used in 10 patients: 1000 mg neem leaf extract for 10 days improved the condition of patients, increasing haemoglobin concentrations, platelet count, CD4+ cell count and body weight (Udeinya et al, 2003).
There is currently a lot of discussion and opposing views concerning garlic’s ability to kill coronavirus. Although it is true that by now there is no scientific proof that certain constituents of garlic are able to destroy coronavirus, yet on the other hand research provides enough data to believe garlic might be able to kill other viruses and may stimulate immune system to be more effective in coping with them.
Studies have demonstrated that garlic helps reduce the risk of viral infections such as flu or clods and may reduce the severity of symptoms. One study gave 146 volunteers either garlic supplements or a placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold, and their colds were also 70% shorter. Another study also concluded that colds were on average 60% shorter for subjects on garlic, compared to a placebo group. Their colds were also less severe.
Intact garlic bulbs contain high amounts of g-glutamylcysteines that are hydrolysed and oxidized to form alliin which as a result of cutting, crushing, or chewing and the influence of an enzyme called alliinase form allicin known to have a potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Furthermore, the same allicin decomposes to other compounds, such as diallyl sulphide (DAS), diallyl disulphide (DADS), diallyl trisulphide (DAT), dithiins and ajoene. G-glutamylcysteines are also converted to S-allylcysteine (SAC) via pathway other than the alliin/allicin one. SAC is one of the water-soluble organosulfur compounds, regarded as a major contributor to garlic’s health benefits.
In garlic, not only allicin but also diallyl disulphide and ajoene seem to possess antiviral properties. For instance, in a cell-based study, diallyl disulfide in garlic inhibited cell growth and selectively killed HIV-infected immune cells. The same active ingredient also inhibited viral replication by decreasing the production of proteins involved in in it [>].
Ajoene (garlic’s organosulfur constituent) managed to prevent healthy blood cells from fusing with HIV-infected cells and inhibited HIV replication in infected cells. It was discovered that ajoene can prevent cell fusion by inactivating platelet integrins (proteins causing cells to fuse together) [>].
Garlic’s active ingredients are also able to stimulate certain immune cells to be more effective in fighting viruses (Wang et al. 2010). Garlic has been demonstrated to have the potential to stimulate immune T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, to activate inflammation necessary to kill viruses. In one study (Susan et al. 2016) 120 healthy participants were taking capsules with a daily dose of 2.56g of garlic extract for 3 months. As a result, T cells nearly doubled their ability to proliferate, whereas the NK cells almost tripled their proliferation numbers.
Experiments have shown that garlic compounds can be effective at killing countless pathogens responsible for not only the most common infections such as cold or flu, but also those that trigger rare infections. In one study (>), participants were given either garlic supplements or a placebo for 3 months during cold season. Those who supplemented with garlic extract were significantly less likely to get a cold, and if they did, they recovered much faster. The placebo group had a significantly greater likelihood of contracting cold during the period. Allicin in particular seems to play a key role in garlic’s antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal abilities.
If you want garlic supplements to have antimicrobial properties, make sure you choose a good quality extract which is standardised for the presence of allicin as regular garlic powders, most garlic oils and products containing processed garlic available on the market do not contain allicin. They may have some other benefits of garlic but they probably will not be able to kill pathogens including viruses.
Astragalus extract is regarded as an excellent energy and immune system booster. It is also an adaptogen herb known to lower excessive cortisol (stress hormone) levels and reduce bad effects of chronic stress.
A 2012 study displayed its ability to control T-helper cells 1 and 2, essentially regulating the body’s immune responses. As a result of taking astragalus extract the macrophages and the natural killer cells of the immune system have a markedly enhanced ability to fight intruders, including viruses, five- to six-fold! It looks like no other herb can be more effective immune system stimulator than Astragalus.
According to Dr. Randy Horwitz, Medical Director at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, “Astragalus has been found to have both antiviral and immune-enhancing properties. Research shows that the 50 or so different compounds in astragalus work by stimulating immune cells, such as T-cells, phagocytes, and macrophages, to fight off disease. In Asia, it’s even given to cancer patients.” Astragalus – Like zinc, selenium, and vitamin D does not only makes immune system stronger but it also modulate immunity helping prevent leukocytes from attacking own body and reducing symptoms of inflammation as well as various autoimmune diseases.
A 2004 study (>) evaluated the effects of astragalus on herpes simplex virus type 1 and confirmed inhibiting properties. Another study (>) published in the Chinese Medical Sciences Journal stated that astragalus was able to inhibit the growth of Coxsackie B virus in rodents. Astragalus also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Due to its proven anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties Propolis can help prevent and shorten the duration of common respiratory diseases such as flu or cold. In one study a regular daily doses of propolis were given to a group of school children during the cold season. As a result the children treated with propolis had significantly fewer colds with acute or chronic symptoms. According to the results of another trial, the group of adults on propolis extract became free of cold symptoms two and half times faster than the control group. It was reported that Propolis improves the cellular immune response by increasing mRNA for interferon-γ and activating the production of cytokines.
According to numerous cellular studies, it can kill viruses, bacteria, and yeasts. It not only soothes a sore throat, but can kill rhinoviruses (the cause of most colds) and stimulates immune system by increasing body temperature. Ginger also prevents the accumulation of toxins that make you susceptible to viral, fungal and bacterial infections.
NUTRITIONAL & LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Don’t use stimulants such as caffeine products or alcohol.
- Learn to control stress and always think positive!
- Exercise in the morning outside to boost serotonin!
- Light therapy. Expose your body to sunlight whenever it is possible or use strong light imitating sunlight.
- Go to sleep as early as possible. Try to sleep at least seven or eight hours a day.
- Avoid foods with refined sugar as it makes leukocytes behave like drunken soldiers. Also white flour products weaken immune system because they are quickly converted to sugar. Instead of sugar and other harmful sweeteners you can use xylitol, erythritol, stevia or organic raw honey in moderation.
- Go on a well-balanced plant-based or at least 75% plant-based unrefined diet with plenty of raw vegetable juices and raw vegetable salads every day.
- Avoid refined oils and margarines. Use raw organic coconut oil as it has antiviral properties.
- Avoid or significantly reduce consumption of cheese, pizza, meat, bad fats & dairy. They weaken immune system and are mucus producing making symptoms worse.
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF FEVER
Fever (high body temperature) – Normal body temperature range is between 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C). Temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) is usually regarded as a sign of a fever. A fever of about 101°F (39°C) is considered mild and usually doesn’t require medication.
IS FEVER GOOD OR BAD: Fevers are generally beneficial and can be considered a sign that your immune system is working properly. A fever is usually triggered by the body to stimulate immune system and weaken viruses, bacteria or cancer cells. In some chronic conditions such as bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, cancer, etc. it is even recommended to increase body temperature using prolonged hot bath (with cold compress on the forehead and neck), hot foot bath or hot shower as higher body temperature stimulates immune system and weakens pathogens and cancer cells.
AVOID DEHYDRATION: However, when body temperature gets too high it can be dangerous as it leads to dehydration. For this reason you must drink plenty of water and herbal teas, raw vegetable juices, etc. Make sure your urine is transparent. If it is yellow it means you must drink more water. During fever you need at least 3 or more litres of water daily, depending on body temperature, the amount of water you loose, your diet (fruits and veggies are high in water). Don’t give a child too much fruit juices as they contain sugar, but rather dilute them with water.
WATER TREATMENTS: A lukewarm bath (15-40min) or wrapping entire body in a lukewarm or cool wet sheet works very well in cooling down a fever. Read more about water treatments >
HERBS (helping lower excessive body temperature): Most important is elderflower (Sambucus nigra flos) and lime blossom (Tilia cordata), but you can also use yarrow (Achillea millefolium), catnip (Mentha nipita), chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) flower, white willow (Salix alba) bark, and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) leaf. All the above herbs (especially tilia and elderflower) are febrifuges (antipyretics) which means they help to reduce fever (Grieves, 1931). You can use them separately or mix few of them together and make a tea (1 tablespoon of dry herbs per 1 or 2 glasses of boiling water, cover and steep for about 30 minutes). You can also mix whichever above herbs you can get, add 3 heaped tablespoons to a litre of water, bring to the boil (or use a large thermos flask) and let it infuse for 15-30 minutes. Drink as much and as often as you can (up to 2 litres a day). Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use lime blossoms and elderflower.
Also Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root is a useful herbal diaphoretic (promotes perspiration) commonly used as a natural remedy for fever. It combines well with listed above herbs that are useful for treating fever.
Remember, the more you sweat the more water you must drink.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.